Pizza Pilgrims, Soho London

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P 

One of the street food successes, Pizza Pilgrims have set roots down in Soho and nested in their own quirky (and very cosy!) corner premises dishing out fabulous Napoli inspired pizzas to the people. They have a number of different locations, some permanent as well as setting up at some of the city’s popular street food locations.

The best things these guys have done with their offerings and menu is that they (in the words of my own father) ‘keep it simple’. Simple in that there are 9 pizza choices, each one as unique as the next which does cause some serious consideration issues for me and my lovely friend Camilla who popped in for an after works long overdue catch up!

We arrived about 6.30pm and there was a light crowd surrounding the restaurant, we groaned with the prospect of being told there is at least an hour wait. We braved the crowd walked in and talked to a very friendly maitre’d who wrote our names on to her very organised clipboard and invited us to enjoy the evening outside and order a drink while we waited for our table. Not a problem!

After being told a 30min wait we were called after 10mins, we were shown downstairs to their ‘cyrpt’ which was buzzing like a true napoli pizzeria. Tables covered in oilcloths and simple chairs from school assembly halls fitted the purpose perfectly. We ordered quickly as the temperature down there was fairly ‘close’ shall we say, so we were eager for liquid to ease our thirst.

The Ruby Juniper cocktail was delish, it packed a punch and not for the faint hearted but certainly a welcome tipple on a hazy Tuesday evening after a hectic day in the office. Literally minutes after our drinks came pizza. My wonderful friend Camilla had the ‘Nduja’ spicy sausage pizza which we would thoroughly recommend for anyone with a cold who is wishing to clear their sinuses – dat waza spicy a pizza! (sorry couldn’t help myself). I chose the ‘Calzone ripieno’ which was superb. Fresh ingredients and served quickly. You couldn’t go wrong!

All in all this is a great little place for a quick little bite, don’t expect to be able to stay and drink the night away over a lengthy meal here, if you are sat upstairs you may be death stared by the queueing patrons waiting for their seat! But it is definitely worth a little visit. The one thing we didn’t get to try (as to be quite honest we felt like we were eating in the pizza oven it was so warm downstairs) is the desserts. The ones that intrigued us both were the Lemon Sorbet served in its own skin and of course the infamous Nutella & salted ricotta pizza ring. An excellent excuse for us to go back to ensure the full menu is sampled! I have given it a 4 P’s out of 5 rating in hope that they get some proper Air Conditioning installed down there!

Prices: Pizzas £5 – £11, Sides £3 – £6, Desserts £4 – £6

Great for: Weekly speedy catch ups (but be prepared to have a drink and wait for your table … its worth the wait!)

Vixxy P’s Menu faves:

Ruby Juniper Cocktail IMG_2388Nduja Pizza   IMG_2390Calzone Ripieno IMG_2389 Contact Details:

Address: 11 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3RP

Telephone: 0207 287 8964 (reservations taken)

Website: http://pizzapilgrims.co.uk/pizzerias/dean-st-soho/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pizzapilgrims

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pizzapilgrims

Google +: https://plus.google.com/104325088801262550164/about?hl=en

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The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

I have to admit straight away this is NOT my own sponge recipe!  But I have to share this. Cakes are my passion and you can’t get more classic than a vanilla sponge. With the classic and simple comes complication. The more simple the sponge the tricker it is to get right as you can’t hide a not-so good cake behind textures and flavours.

This has to be the best recipe I have tried and tasted so far! If you have one to rival it I would love to know!

Mary Berry - photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

Mary Berry – photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

The recipe is by the cake goddess herself Mary Berry. My mother had the fortune of taking an AGA course with her at her home many moons ago, and said she is the sweetest and most gentle soul who loves cakes, baking and sharing her experience with others. What a lovely lady!  Her sponge recipe is taken from:

Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

So here is my recipe for a wonderful vanilla sponge topped with sweet buttercream and fresh strawberries. The key thing about baking is technique, you don’t have to have top quality ingredients if you can’t get them or afford them. It is the technique and process you follow. You can do this, I promise! Just have a go!

Ingredients

Sponge

225g Unsalted butter (*important* room temperature, soft to touch but not melted)

225g Caster sugar

225g Self-raising flour

4 large eggs (*important* room temperature)

1tsp Vanilla essence

1tbsp milk (*important* room temperature)

Topping

150g Unsalted butter

300g Icing sugar

140ml whipped cream

1 punnet of fresh strawberries

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/gas 4 and grease your chosen tin(s). Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer for a minute until very smooth and creamy.

2. Gradually beat in the sugar, then keep on beating for 3 or 4 minutes or until the mixture turns almost white and becomes very fluffy in texture; scrape down the bowl from time to time.

3. Break the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork just to break them up.

4. Slowly add to the creamed mixture, a tablespoon at a time, giving the mixture a good beating after each addition and frequently scraping down the bowl. This will take about 5 minutes.

5. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and then continue adding the last portions of egg.

6. Sift the flour again, this time onto the mixture and add the milk

7. Gently but thoroughly fold the flour into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Do this as lightly as possible so you don’t knock out any of the air you have beaten in.

8. Stop folding when there are no streaks of flour visible in the mix and no clumps at the bottom of the bowl.

9. Spoon the mix into a tin (mine was a silicone Mickey Mouse shaped one!), or into two tins if you want to create a sandwich cake

10. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin(s) right to the edges

11. Bake for 20/25 mis or until a golden brown and the sponges are springy when gently pressed with your fingertip. They should almost double in size during baking.

12. Whilst the sponge is baking take the butter, icing and cream and mix thoroughly in a bowl with a metal spoon. Once mixed pop in the fridge to chill

13. Remove the tins from the oven and leave for a minute – the sponges will contract slightly. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

14. Once the sponge has chilled spoon and spread the buttercream on the sponge, spreading to the outside of the cake

15. Hull the strawberries and slice them in two so they have a flat surface to place on the icing

16. Stick the strawberries to the buttercream icing on the cake to cover the cake. You could also sift icing sugar over the cake if you wish.

17. Enjoy!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Sounds peculiar I know. When I came home tonight after a week of attending lots of incredible London 2012 Paralympic events my fridge was a bit of a sorry sight.

Vixxy P at London 2012

Vixxy P at London 2012

Usually bursting with colour and choice the fridge consisted of a few ingredients that possibly would not even satisfy Ainsley Harriott and the Ready Steady Cook gang! So this is what I put together, and for my sister, my boyfriend it was something they both claimed was a triumph! It was really quite easy and lovely and comforting.

Try it and see!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Ingredients

6 chipolata sausages (ours were pork and free range from Waitrose)

50g Butter

5 tbsp Plain flour (heaped)

200ml Chicken stock

100ml milk (I used semi skimmed)

4 tsp Honey and Whisky Wholegrain Mustard (You can add these all separately ingredients)

50g Gruyère cheese (Leave a couple of pinches aside for to sprinkle on top)

100g Extra Mature Cheddar cheese

170g Double cream

100g Frozen peitis pois (you could also try adding any other green veg like courgette/broccoli/spinach)

350g Pasta (I used amori but you can use any of your choice)

Salt and Pepper (add to taste)

Method

1. Grill the sausages till golden brown, put aside to cool and then chop into chunks

2. Bring some salted water to the boil and add the pasta (cook for the recommended time on the packet or just taste test it as you go!). Drain the pasta and set aside

3. You can either do this after the pasta or prepare the ingredients before and make whilst the pasta is cooking.  Make a roux from melting the butter in a pan on a medium heat and whisking in 3 tbsp on flour gradually so it becomes paste like.

4. Add half the chicken stock and whisk till thoroughly mixed through.

5. Add the whisky, mustard, milk, cheese, salt and pepper then continue to whisk till it is fully combined and heated through (don’t let this boil!)

6.  Add the petit pois and gently heat through till the peas are cooked

7. Add the pasta and sausages to the sauce

8. Pour in the cream and mix well so that all the pasta and ingredients are covered in sauce! Add more salt and pepper if needed!

9. Dish up and sprinkle some of the Gruyère on top before serving

10. Enjoy!

Raspberry Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

For something a little different and refreshing why not try this amazingly simple recipe for sorbet?!  I made this last week when the weather was very humid and we needed something to cool us all down!

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

This is such a simple recipe you have to try it!

Ingredients

150g caster sugar

50ml Water

600g fresh raspberries

1 fresh mango, diced into small chunks (pat dry)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

1. Pour the sugar and water into a pan and place over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove and let it cool

2. When the sugar syrup is cool, add raspberries and lemon juice to the syrup in a food processor and puree.

3. Strain the pureed mixture through a fine sieve and transfer to a freezable container

4. Put the container in the freezer for half an hour

5. Take out the container, break up the mixture that will be slowly freezing, take the mango and slowly stir it into the mix

6. Place the mixture back in the freezer for about 4 – 6hrs

7. Enjoy!

Fresh Sweet Chilli dip recipe

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Phew! London has been a sweltering bath of humidity this weekend, lovely to have the weather, but us Brits are never quite sure how to cope with it! Very few residential homes have air con here in the UK, so countless cold showers and wafting the nearest magazine or leaflet as makeshift fans seem to be the best ideas we seem to have come up with!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool - perfect way to cool down!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool – perfect way to cool down!

When the weather is hot and humid food needs to been fresh, light and cool. This is a light, tasty and versatile dip which can be served with carrot sticks, broccoli florets, mange tout, crisps, tortilla chips or anything you can dip! Try it, it is so fresh especially when it is lovely and chilled. Perfect with a chilled glass of rose!

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Ingredients

4 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 tbsp Thai Sweet Chilli sauce

Method

1. Mix the creme fraiche and chilli sauce in a bowl and chill for at least half an hour or so before serving.

2. Serve with crudités, tortilla chips or anything you can dip in it! Enjoy!!

*N.B.* If you need more dip just increase the quantities in ratio. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub recipe

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Say the word Syllabub, go on! Brilliant isn’t it. I decided to look up it’s meaning and what I didn’t realise is that it is a traditional English dessert. I always thought it originated in Europe somewhere, apparently not! It dates back from as far back as the 16th Century and was traditionally a drink made of new milk and cider, with the cows milked directly into an ale pot! I think I prefer this version below!

So…In this so called summer I have not had a chance to stretch my legs along the al fresco dining path as much as I would have liked. So instead I am just going to write about them! This particular dessert is something introduced to me by my sister.  It is a firm favourite in our family and even the non dessert-likers will eat this one!

This is zesty, zingy, fresh, creamy, lush, rich and refreshing all at the same time. It is well worth the wait! A fantastic dessert for a dinner party, or refreshing indulgent treat!

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Ingredients

3 Large lemons (the fresher the lemon, the better the dessert!)

100ml Limoncello liquer

300ml Double cream

100g Caster sugar

15 Italian Amaretti biscuits

Method

1. Zest all three of the lemons and put to one side

2. Then juice all three of the lemons into a bowl

3. Add about 75% of the zest to the lemon juice, then add the limoncello and mix together

4. In a separate bowl whip the cream with the sugar. Whisk only until it is starting to thicken and is like thick yoghurt. Slowly add the lemon mix bit by bit and whisk until fully combined.

5. Pour portions into bowls, martini glasses, shot glasses, anything that can be chilled.

6. Pop in the fridge and let them chill ideally over night but you can serve them after 2-3 hours in the fridge

7. Crush biscuits and mix with the left over lemon zest and use this to decorate on top of the dessert just before serving. I normally use half the biscuits for decoration and have a bowl full of the rest of the crushed biscuits and lemon zest on the table for people to add more if they wish (they always do!)

The Best Carrot Cake you’ll ever bake recipe

The Best Carrot Cake you'll ever make

I know that is quite a statement, and I suppose maybe I should put a few disclaimers in there stating that it depends on the quality of your oven, the ingredients you use blah blah blah…

But I am not. I am going to say it and stick by it. You will have to let me know if you think it is true!

I adapted this recipe as I have to give credit to the original recipe which is from BBC GoodFood. But I think my little additions make it more moist, and tantalizingly earthy.

The picture below doesn’t do it justice, and also… I sliced the cake in half so this is only the top half of the cake! I had to slice it for transportation reasons as it was a gift for someone. But believe me this baby rises HIGH!

The Best Carrot Cake you'll ever make

The Best Carrot Cake you’ll ever make

Ingredients

300g Plain Flour

2 tsp mixed spices

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g soft brown sugar

4 eggs

200ml sunflower oil

50ml Orange Squash (I use Robinson’s R Orange Squash)

1 orange zested

1 lemon, zested

200g carrots, grated

150g pecans, smashed/chopped

Small tin of pineapple pieces

200g unsalted butter softened at room temperature

200g icing sugar

250g cream cheese

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 150c/300F/Gas Mark 2

2. Prepare and line a deep cake tin (20cm ideally)

3. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar

4. In a separate bowl or jug beat the eggs with the oil and then add the orange squash, orange and lemon zests.

5. Pour the carrots to the egg/oil and mix well

6. Slowly mix this into the dry ingredients until well combined and you have a sticky shiny batter

7. Fold the nuts and pineapple (try and make sure the pineapple is as well drained as possible – I sometime put it on kitchen roll to absorb the liquid) into the batter

8. Spoon the batter into the lined tin and make sure the surface of the batter in the tin is as flat as you can (use your spoon or spatula to smooth the mixture so it has a level/even surface)

9. Pop in the oven for 1hr 20 mins (test this as this may vary from cake to cake – it does for me!)

10. Once the cake is baking beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy, add the icing sugar slowly! I have learned the painful way with this stage when not wearing an apron!

11. Add all the cream cheese and beat till it is a silky creamy cream cheese icing

12. Pop the cream cheese icing in the fridge and let it chill until the cake it cooked and cooled

13. Once the cake has cooled, take out the icing and decorate, I vary the way I apply the icing from having it just on top of the cake like in the photo above, or alternatively you could cover the entire cake in cream cheese icing which is when you are feeling particularly indulgent! (I have put the measurements in the ingredients for if you want to cover the entire cake, as another thing you could do is half the cake and make two if you wish!)

14. Enjoy!

 

Tasty Tasty Tuna Lasagne recipe

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

I know this blog is normally about things that your mum used to make, but this is something my school used to make! Many moons ago now I attended boarding school and Supper was that triumphant meal when you knew the working day was over and you had a few hours of freedom before you had to do it all over again.

Tuna Lasagne is what it was called but I suppose you could call it a Tuna Pasta Bake? This isn’t the recipe they used at school, it is my own version but it was a creation of mine one night when I was craving the school supper classic.  It is so simple and actually tastes really good.  A great alternative to the Italian meat version. Go on see what you think.

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

Ingredients

4 tins of flaked tuna in brine (normal sized tins that you get in the supermarket)

2 tbsp Creme Fraiche

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp Malt vinegar

50g Frozen Petits Pois

50g Frozen Sweetcorn

Lasagne sheets

Cheese sauce (you can buy a packet or jar but I made my own)

Grated cheddar and parmesan cheese

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/400F/Gas Mark 6

2. Defrost the petitis pois and sweetcorn, drain and let them cool

3. Drain the tuna and flake in a bowl till separated but still chunky

4. Add Creme Fraiche, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, malt vinegar and mix till fully combined (Here you can add anything else you like as well as more mustard or creme fraiche to suit your personal taste)

5. Fold the cooled sweetcorn and petitis pois into the mix and put to one side

6. Heat the cheese sauce and let it cool for 10 mins so it isn’t scalding hot

7. In an ovenproof dish spoon and spread a layer of tuna mix (about 1-2cm thick)

8. Then cover the mixture entirely with lasagne pasta sheets

9. Spoon and spread cheese sauce over the pasta sheets

10. Repeat the process till up to the top and cover with a final layer of pasta and cheese sauce

11. Cover the top layer with the cheddar and parmesan grated cheese

12. Place in the middle of the oven for 40 mins or until the cheese is golden brown.

13. Serve with roasted green vegetables or salad

14. Enjoy!

 

 

Cadbury Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

If you live in the UK you have probably seen something rather odd sat in the refrigerated shelves next to the soft cheeses.  Kraft/Cadbury’s have launched a chocolate philadelphia spread which is aiming to take on the almighty Nutella.

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia

 So obviously something so peculiar sparked an interest and I made it my mission to discover this mysterious collaboration.  This included hunting my local shops and supermarkets, and even taking to my social media pages to ask if anyone has seen it!

Finally I found what I was looking for, I purchased 4 tubs, as there was one thing I was dying to try, and that was my favourite American baked cheesecake recipe.  And you know what… it was fantastic!  It is even better when it is really chilled.  Try it, you’ll see what I mean!

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

Ingredients

16 Digestive biscuits

110g butter, just melted

600g cream cheese (if you want to try the recipe I did use the Cadbury’s Philadelphia cream cheese)

2 tbsp plain flour

175g caster sugar

vanilla extract

2 eggs, plus 1 yolk

142ml sour cream

Method

1. Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4

2. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin

3.Mix with the melted butter and press into a 20cm spring form tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool (to speed this up you could put it in the fridge)

4.Beat the cream cheese with the flour, sugar, a few drops of vanilla, eggs, the yolk and the sour cream until light and fluffy

5.Pour into the tin on top of the biscuit base

6.Bake for 40mins and then check.  It should be set but slightly wobbly to touch.  Turn off the oven and leave in the oven to cool down

7. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving

N.B – Don’t be impatient with this!  The cheesecake will split and it tastes rubbish if you don’t let it cool properly.

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

What a great weekend of weather.  A lovely weekend of open windows and sunshine.  It has also been a weekend of baking and cooking (well… when is it not?!).  My partner has just received the eagerly anticipated Blu Ray he has been waiting for and tonight is set aside to watch it (For those of you who are wondering it’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).  One of our favourite TV dinners is this one.  Loaded nachos.  If you can they are always best if you can make the chilli the day before so it can rest and develop a fuller spicy flavour.

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

Serves 6-8

Chilli mince

Ingredients

2tbsp olive oil

2 onions chopped

4 garlic cloves

1kg mince (beef/turkey/pork)

250ml red wine

2 tins of chopped tomatoes (400g)

3 tbsp tomato puree

2 red chillies, thinly sliced (or 4 tsp of dried chilli flakes)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 stick cinnamon (or 3 tsp ground cinnamon)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 beef stock cube

2 tins of red kidney beans (400g tins)

1 tin of baken beans

1 lrg bunch of coriander chopped roughly

3 squares of Marmite chocolate

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and fry the onions and garlic gently till softened

2. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking until browned all over and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon

3.Pour in the red wine and boil for 2/3 mins

4. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, fresh chilli/dried flakes, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube.  Also season well with salt and pepper

5. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid, cook for about 50 minutes-1hour, stirring occaisonally until the sauce has thickened

6. Add the kidney beans and the baked beans and cook for a further 10 minutes without the lid, adding any extra seasoning or spice if required (I normally slug a good bit of tabasco or piri-piri sauce in)

7. Break up the marmite chocolate and stir into the chilli ensuring it has fully melted down and mixed in

Guacamole

Ingredients:

2-3 Avocados

1/2 a white onions, finely chopped

1 salad tomato, de-seeded and chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream

Method:

1. Roughly crush the avocados in a bowl

2. Mix through the chopped onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper

3. Add the creme fraiche or sour cream and mix through

4. The most important part here is to taste it, see if it needs more of anything as it is all personal preference

Other ingredients for Loaded Nachos

2x bags of Lightly Salted Doritos

Sour Cream

Grated cheese

Method:

1. Pre heat oven to 100c

2. Pour nachos into a large heatproof bowl, top with chilli mince and pile a generous helping of grated cheese on top

3. Put this into the oven for 10-15 mins

4. Prepare the other ingredients in to bowls for everyone to choose their own toppings, or pile on to the loaded nachos when they come out the oven